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Dutchman wary of dangerous rivals and rues lack of a stage win over the past few days.

Photo: ANSA - PERI / DI MEO / ZENNARO

GIRO D'ITALIA

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STEVEN KRUIJSWIJK

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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26.05.2016 @ 10:17 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

Although many pundits are saying that he already has the Giro d’Italia all but sewn up, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) acknowledges his surprise at his current lead in the Italian grand tour. However, he also emphasizes that he takes nothing for granted going into the final mountain stages on Friday and Saturday.

 

On Tuesday, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) demonstrated that he has not abandoned his intentions to keep fighting even though he trails the Dutchman in the pink jersey by more than three minutes. Attacking on the climbs and eventually winning the stage ahead of the Giro leader, Valverde showed that the race is far from over.

 

The Spaniard moved up to third in the general classification with his win, behind Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge). Steven Kruijswijk, for one, took notice.

 

“I won’t underestimate my rivals. Valverde is in great condition and I won’t make that mistake,” Kruijswijk told Gazzetta dello Sport. “There were a lot of attacks on the first climb [of stage 16]. I understand why they made them, but I knew which ones I had to check. I responded to the attacks of Nibali and Valverde, then I controlled the stage.”

 

Kruijswijk showed remarkable consistency by finishing second on stages 14, 15 and 16 and thus build and increase his lead, while rivals such as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Chaves both faltered on the short mountain stage on Tuesday.

 

But while all those high finishes have put him in a good position to win the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, Kruijswijk admits he’d have liked to win a stage.

 

“I would have liked to win one as a gift to the team. There is a hint of regret,” he said. Kruijswijk will have the opportunity to settle that score as the Giro heads into the Alps and the decisive stages on Friday and Saturday.

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